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HISTORY

THE GREAT INDIAN ESCAPE.

The mighty Australians were a formidable side even in the 1980s, a decade dominated by the West Indies. India's tour of Australia in 1980-81 is remembered in cricketing folklore as THE GREAT ESCAPE. The tour was a classic illustration of the roller-coaster ride that Indian cricket has known to take down the decades. The three-Test series ended in a 1-1 draw, but not without drama. The first Test at Sydney was a visit to the cleaners as far as the Indians were concerned. They had no answer to the Australian onslaught and lost by an innings and four runs. India scored 201 in both innings while the Aussies amassed 406 in their only outing. They wrapped up the Test within three days. The second Test at Adelaide looked like going Australia's way. The hosts piled up a mammoth 528 in the first innings. If Greg Chappell (204 in 296 balls) had been India's main tormentor in the first Test, then it was Kim Hughes who brutalized the Indian bowling in the second. He scored 213 from 303 balls. India were reeling at 130-4 in reply when the flamboyant, belligerent and audacious Sandeep Patil came in to bat. He took to the Aussie attack and slammed an artful and powerful 174 off 240 deliveries. This presentation-conscious guy was also conscious about his duty and the need to deliver. What made his innings all the more special was that he had just been discharged from hospital, where he had spent some time after being struck on the right ear by Australian paceman Len Pascoe in the previous Test. He had come back to hammer the same bowler and his mates, one of whom was the great Dennis Lillee, in spectacular style! He was well supported by Chetan Chauhan, who scored 97.



Kapil Dev.

But the efforts of Patil and Chauhan would have been wasted had it not been for the grit of tail-enders Karsan Ghavri and Shivlal Yadav in the second innings. The Indians needed to bat out the final hour-and-a-half on the last day to save the game, but messed it up. They lost wickets consistently until the ninth wicket pair of Ghavri and Yadav put down the shutters in the mandatory overs and forced a draw. The Indians were hanging on for dear life at 135-8 when stumps were drawn.

Then came the twist to beat all twists. Melbourne hosted the third and final Test, which India had to win to square the series. But looking at the near-total Australian domination of the first two Tests, the number of people predicting an Indian triumph was rather insignificant to say the least.

 


The first four days of the Test followed the pattern that had been established in the series, with the Aussies outplaying their opponents on all fronts. India batted first and scored only 237. Gundappa Viswanath top-scored with 114. The Aussies moved into the driver's seat by scoring 419, which gave them a lead of 182, a huge one on a poor pitch where the bounce was getting lower as the match progressed.

India started the second innings on a positive note with Gavaskar and Chauhan almost wiping out the deficit all by themselves. They had added 165 when Lillee won a leg-before appeal against the Indian captain. Gavaskar was upset with the decision, and incensed when an Australian player muttered something obscene. He 'lost it' and asked Chauhan to accompany him to the pavilion. The controversy was defused by Wg.Cdr Durani, the Manager of the Indian team. He met Gavaskar at the gate, and asked Chauhan to wait on the ground, even as the new batsman Dilip Vengsarkar took the captain's place in the middle. India were eventually all out for 324, leaving the Aussies with just 143 to get. An Aussie win seemed a formality, especially with all the frontline Indian bowlers barring Ghavri nursing injuries. Yadav had a fractured toe and could not bowl at all, but Doshi, who had a similar problem, decided to go flat out. He along with Ghavri managed to gulp three Australians by the end of the fourth day, one of them the Aussie skipper Greg Chappell for a first-ball duck. At the team-hotel that evening, Gavaskar exhorted his main strike bowler Kapil Dev to forget his thigh injury and swing into action. Kapil spent the entire night taking pain-killers, and was on the field on the next day.

To say that he bowled beautifully would be an understatement. In an unchanged spell, he delivered 16.4 overs, conceded only 28 runs and bagged five wickets. The Aussies were bowled out for 83 and India had squared the series with a 59-run win.

It was India's fourth tour of Australia, but the first time that the series had ended with honours even.

 
 
 
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RANK TEAM POINTS
1 AustraliaAustralia 118
2 IndiaIndia 112
3 cricketPakistan 111
4 EnglandEngland 108
5 AustraliaNew Zealand 98
6 SouthSouth Africa 92
7 sri LankaSri Lanka 85
8 West IndiesWest Indies 65
9 BangladeshBangladesh 57
10 ZimbabweZimbabwe 48
RANK TEAM POINTS
1 AustraliaAustralia 123
2 new ZealandNew Zealand 113
3 ZimbabweIndia 110
4 South AfricaSouth Africa 110
5 EnglandEngland 106
6 sri LankaSri Lanka 102
7 BangladeshBangladesh 98
8 countryWest Indies 94
9 cricket Pakistan 87
10 AfghanistanAfghanistan 49
RANK TEAM POINTS
1 New ZealandNew Zealand 132
2 IndiaIndia 128
3 west IndiesWest Indies 122
4 AfricaSouth Africa 119
5 EnglandEngland 116
6 AustraliaAustralia 110
7 Pakistan Pakistan 104
8 sri LankaSri Lanka 96
9 AfghanistanAfghanistan 78
10 BangladeshBangladesh 74

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